While cardiovascular diseases, including strokes, claim the life of a woman about every 80 seconds according to the American Heart Association, around 80 percent of these diseases can be prevented. “An important first step in taking charge of your heart health is making sure you are scheduling a yearly checkup with a healthcare professional,” Dr. Anthony Burke, a cardiologist with Southwell Cardiology said. “We can check your blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose levels, and go over a safe plan for you to reach a healthy weight. These are all key first steps in seeing what other heart healthy measures you may need to take.” Burke also said things such as eating heart-healthy foods, drinking more water, and staying active are all ways to help take charge of your heart health and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. “Simple swaps to whole-grain versions of pasta, tortillas, rice, and bread or switching to leaner meats like chicken, turkey, or fish rather than red meat are all good places to start,” said Burke. “Looking for low-sodium and low-fat options are also great options.” Burke recommended at least 150 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity each week for good heart health. “A sedentary lifestyle is not good long-term for your heart, so get up and move around rather than sitting,” Burke said. “Even light activity can help offset some of the risks of being inactive, and it’s a great way to build up to the more intense physical activity that’s recommended by the American Heart Association. “Exercising, along with eating heart healthy foods, should also help you control your cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight as well, which are both important for good heart health.” Burke also said that quitting smoking is also an important step for anyone wanting to take charge of their overall health, but particularly their heart health. To make an appointment with Dr. Anthony Burke, who sees patients at Southwell Medical Adel Primary Care in Adel every other Friday, and at Southwell Medical Clinic in Tifton every Monday-Thursday and the opposite Fridays, or to learn more about Southwell Cardiology, call 229-391-4270.